Failure, Honor, and Excellence
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the December 2011 issue of Scientia. The editor has made some revisions for clarity.
“Honor and Excellence” are values innate in UP culture. It is a famous phrase that we embody as Iskolars ng Bayan. It is the theme of Prof. Solita Monsod’s moving and inspiring lecture that gained viral status on YouTube. It is so entwined with our University that if you type these words on the Google search bar, the first hit would be the UP Diliman website. Lastly, and most importantly, these powerful words are printed on our bluebooks to remind us of the high grades we are to strive for.
But for whatever reason, your bluebook comes back with a red 5.00 — a contradiction to “honor and excellence.” You feel depressed, like the world is crashing down on you. You feel like you have failed the millions of taxpayers who contributed to your education, and you feel like Oble is shaking his head at your grade. You go home, eat a whole gallon of ice cream, play Coldplay’s “Fix You” (“When you try your best, but you don’t succeed…”), and cry your eyes out the whole night while your High Expectations Asian Father and your Tiger Mom lecture you for your “misdeed.” For most, getting a singko is shameful, puts a strain on one’s GWA and is a definite no-no as a UP student.
However, a failure — whether in life or academics — is an excellent learning experience. It is a chance to bounce back and do better, and comes with a great story to tell.
So, what exactly happens when you get your first singko, or first tres or an incomplete even? Here is my version of the Küber-Ross model, or the Singko Stages of Grief:
Denial — “Ay singko. Ok lang yan, madami din naman kaming binagsak ni Sir, eh…” “This can’t happen to me…I’m an Iskolar ng Bayan!” This only lasts for a very short while because soon will come…
Anger — Either directed inward or to other people. This stage involves a whole lot of expletives and ripping of bluebooks. “)@(#%*@()%@& SANA HINDI NALANG AKO NAG-UP! Dean’s lister siguro ako sa ibang school!” “%)#(@#()% mo, Sir *insert name here*!” “Bakit pa kasi required yung subject na ito sa course ko!”
Bargaining — This is the stage where you start to look back and question yourself for what happenned, and imagine how things could have been if only you have done it differently. “Sana hindi nalang ako nag-Adhoc the night before the exam…” “Siguro kung hindi ako nag-DOTA, napasa ko pa yung midterms…” “Lord, if you give me a sem do-over, I’d study every night!”
Depression — During this stage, all the ‘emo’ thoughts enter your mind, and you continue to question your existence and worth. Bathing and self-grooming are also optional, as you will often find yourself with stubble (for boys) or forest-like eyebrows (for girls). “I don’t deserve to study in this school and call myself an Iskolar ng Bayan…” “Ako na ang pinaka-bobo sa buong UP!”
Acceptance — This part takes time, and I congratulate you once you have reached it. At this point, you find yourself enrolling in the same class in CRS and rummaging for your old notes. You may also find yourself laughing at what happened, because, as the saying goes, “Comedy is tragedy plus time.” Or you may end up writing this article based on your personal experience.
If I could assign each grade a particular color, then my CRS grade page would look like a rainbow. I have earned every grade imaginable in the UP system, from numbers (an uno to a singko) to letters (INC, DRP, P). I am proud to say that, at this point, I have a chance to graduate on time and I do not regret anything.
There are three things that I have learned from my academic experiences.
One: Things happen for a reason. Whether the reason is to learn something better, to keep you grounded, or to meet important people during your second take, you will realize that this event has shaped your life in some way.
Two: You can redeem yourself the second time around. Now is your chance to balance that singko with an uno! Also, getting a 4.00 should be seen as an opportunity to pass and work your hardest for (hopefully) one last time.
Three: Life goes on. Once you have accepted your fate, you will learn that everything that had happened is okay — that you can do better in the future or that you shouldn’t be ashamed of your grade. Because honor and excellence is not always defined by the unos you get or the number of semesters you’ve become a college scholar. Honor and excellence is also standing up as tall and as proud as Oble after you’ve taken a fall, dusting off the dirt that’s on you, and running the race better than before.